The band’s signature hit throws in funk and disco to create an oddly disorienting, almost stoned groove
With its distinctive 16-notes-to-the-bar bassline and unashamedly honky sax solo (played on two saxes at once), Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ signature hit was certainly one of the more idiosyncratic No 1s of the 1970s. The same could be said of their inimitable frontman, who exemplified the post-punk era’s particular ability to allow unlikely and extraordinary characters to infiltrate the mainstream.
Just three years prior to reaching the top spot in January 1979, the edgy, twitchy singer-narrator-wordsmith dubbed “the Count Dracula of vernacular” had been the thirtysomething, struggling frontman of Kilburn and the High Roads, a seemingly washed-up, chaotic, bedraggled bunch of misfits and miscreants. Left with a severely withered arm and leg following a childhood bout of polio, Dury had already overcome disability, taunts and school days he described as “heavy-duty sadism” and “unmitigated hell” to become an unconventional but riveting live performer.